- Buffalo Wild Wings has teamed up with MGM Resorts International and its sports betting venture Roar Digital to bring sports gaming experiences to Buffalo Wild Wings' restaurants, according to a press release.
- A Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant will also open at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas during 2020.
- The first offering from the new partnership is a free-to-play football game available nationwide. The partnership also plans to test sports betting in New Jersey later this year and then expand it to additional states as legislation is passed legalizing it.
Ever since the U.S Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting last year, 42 states introduced or passed laws to bring gaming activities to their residents. The combination of sports betting and a sports-centric bar is likely a match made in heaven for some of Buffalo Wild Wings' core demographic, while potentially giving others a reason to try the restaurant chain if they haven't already.
While the MGM relationship adds a new entertainment option, it also opens up an alternative location for Buffalo Wild Wings: hotels. More brands and foodservice providers have been eyeing the hotel space as another revenue stream, especially now that hoteliers are seeking a third-party to run the hotel's food and beverage program. Ruth's Chris Steak House and Sage Restaurant Group have already been expanding into hotels, for example.
For Buffalo Wild Wings, nontraditional locations are nothing new. It already has several airport sites, including locations in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, John F. Kennedy Airport and Hobby Airport in Houston, according to its website. The restaurant has already experimented with a few other alternative format options, including a scaled-down format called B-Dubs Express focused more on counter-service and takeout in a bid to win over millennial's waning interest. In 2017, it also considered a format without tables focused more on takeout and delivery, while slowing down construction of its standard 5,400 square foot stores.
Before Arby's acquired the chain in 2018, its sales were struggling at its 1,255 store locations. Following the deal, the new owner's looked to a refresh for the brand, which suffered from competition from other sports bar themed restaurants that may have brought more innovative ideas to the dinner table, parent company Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown told Business Insider.
The brand also has been aggressively marketing during the start of various sports seasons, such as offering a number of promotions keyed to March Madness and launching a campaign for the start of NFL season. Teaming up with a gambling company could be one way that the new leadership is hoping to differentiate Buffalo Wild Wings, particularly as consumers seek out more experienced-focused, tech-driven dining opportunities, as well as help it become a go-to place to view various sports games.